Africa Appeals Project Wins World Justice Challenge Award - And Files Trailblazing Petitions For Clients In Malawi And Tanzania

In May 2019, the Center was honored to win the World Justice Challenge award in recognition of the Malawi Resentencing Project, which has led to the release of more than 140 people formerly on death row. The Center played a leading role in this pioneering project, and continues to work with local partners to obtain new sentencing hearings for ten more prisoners sentenced to death under Malawi’s now-defunct mandatory sentencing scheme.

Members of the World Justice Project presenting the World Justice Challenge Award to the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide.

Members of the World Justice Project presenting the World Justice Challenge Award to the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide.

Professors Sandra Babcock and Zohra Ahmed, along with their students from Cornell Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, are currently representing ten prisoners on death row in Malawi and Tanzania. The Center recruited the firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton to represent an additional eight prisoners in their appeals to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Reprieve, a London-based NGO, is working closely with Cleary and the Center to ensure the prisoners receive the best quality legal representation.

In particular, the Center is representing Jenicia Philemon, a survivor of severe gender-based violence. Together with Mashaka Msala, one of our Makwanyane Defenders, we have appealed to Tanzanian President John Magufuli to commute Jenecia’s death sentence based on mitigating evidence that was never considered by the court—including her long history of brutal violence at the hands of her former husband.